The physics department has some excellent laboratory facilities. The lower level lab courses provide students with the opportunity to investigate fundamental physical concepts through hands-on experimentation and analysis. Upper-year students will be able to use a wide variety of professional-grade experimental equipment to study topics in all areas of physics. While emphasis is placed on determining the fundamental physical constants of nature as precisely as possible and in repeating many of the Nobel Prize winning experiments, students will also have the opportunity to carry out projects in areas of particular interest to them. For example many students are intrigued by holography and we are the only University in Canada that gives our students the chance to create three-colour holograms.
For most of the quantitative experiments, data collection is accomplished through the use of modern, high speed computers and specialized lab software programs (e.g., DataStudio). Students will have the opportunity to analyze their data with a wide variety of the most advanced software available. We consider computational analysis to be an extremely important component of the training of any physics student. These skills will give students a distinct advantage with respect to almost all of the career paths on which they are likely to embark.
Bishop’s has its own 96-node Beowulf-class supercomputer. The computer is essentially a cluster of 96 Pentium4 CPUs whose activities are coordinated by a central server. All of these nodes share data with a Storage Area Network. Students carrying out research projects that require numerically intensive analysis have the opportunity to use this world-class facility.
Physics Help Center (JOH 1)
The Help Center is designed to provide individualized assistance to students enrolled in physics and astronomy courses. The center is typically used by first- and second-year students. It is staffed by a coordinator assisted by a number of graduate students studying physics. Students can get expert tutorial help with material from their lecture courses or personalized assistance in solving their assignment questions.
Mathematics Resource Room (JOH 117c)
This is where most math and physics students meet, eat and work, making it the perfect place to spend time in between classes. This type of congenial meeting place allows students to work together and build an ‘esprit de corps’. The room is also equipped with a microwave, wifi connectivity and several computers.
Linux and Windows labs (JOH118, H150, N110, N111, Library).
There are several computer labs on campus. The one located in the main science building (Johnson 118) is a fully Linux-based lab. Most of the other labs are Windows based but there is one lab that caters solely to the Mac user.
The library has an impressive and up-to-date collection of physics texts. As a member of the CNSLP (Canadian National Site Licensing Project), Bishop’s library offers free online access to the many physics and astronomy periodicals and abstract databases (see our Resources page for a highly condensed list). If you need a book or article that is not in the library, it can be quickly ordered through Inter-Library Loan. If you have specific information about an article, we can generally obtain a copy in 24 hours by our access to the CISTI service. The department also has a substantial budget for book acquisitions, so if you have any ideas, don’t hesitate to share them with the chair of the department.